Terry Durack, the Independent newspaper’s (UK) restaurant critic and gourmet wrote some years ago in his Food for Thought column:
Coffee and tea measure our lives. As youngsters, most of us start with tea, then we leave its safer pleasures behind for the racy glamour of espresso as we venture out into the world. Later we move back, retreating from the aggressive nature of the bean to the gentler leaf, marking a circle as perfect as that left by a mug on an oak table. The real difference is that we drink coffee because we need it, and tea because we like it.
In the same column, he writes,
Coffee is a fix, tea is a palliative. If coffee speeds things up, then tea slows them down.
The urbane and elegant nature of tea is something that our time poor society has robbed itself of. Yet the faster our pace of life, the more vital become those aspects of tea in fuelling that lifestyle.
The calming, relaxing and often inspiring taste, aroma and appearance of tea and the sense of pleasure good, fresh tea can impart in 10 minutes, are unmatched by any equivalent. The aroma of a fine high grown tea, tinged with fresh herbs, hay and sometimes the scent of eucalyptus, the ceremony of brewing and the taste that follows, make up an elegant ritual that has for centuries built frinedship and family.
Crystallising the value of this aspect of tea, my father wrote in 2000:
For centuries, problems of mankind have been solved over a cup of tea. Whether they were problems between nations, between businesses, even in families between husbands & wives, tea has been the soothing balm that helped their solution. The simple act of pouring a cup of tea is, in itself, an ice breaker, providing pleasurable anticipation of the goodness that is to follow.
I have dedicated nearly fifty years of my life to providing that cup of tea: not only to solve problems but, to add sunshine to our day, with the very first sip of goodness.
Tea, with its heritage of 5,000 years, offers so much to our 21st century society. And to learn how tea can genuinely ease our troubles of mind and body, one needs only understand the reverence and ceremony with which our forefathers treated this wonderful beverage, to their great advantage. That was of course before globalization and corporatisation began to exact their toll.